Thursday, July 24

Fewer parent advocates this fall?

District family advocates, positions newly created by the DOE's Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy before the 2007-08 school year, will be fewer and farther between in 2008-09, according to a story in today's Post.

Each district was to have at least two family advocates according to OFEA, over and above school-based parent coordinators. Now, it looks like more than half of the city's 34 districts may have only one.

Calls to OFEA were inconclusive: Gwen Hopkins, Managing Director for Parent Leadership and Support, didn't deny that cuts were planned, saying "many divisions have to weather this latest round of cuts." Chief of Staff Melissa Harris put us on hold for a while, then came back to say she was "not at liberty" to respond to our questions.

Parents, if you've had interactions, positive or negative, with District Family Advocates, let us know. We're interested in learning how thinning their ranks might affect everyday life at the city's schools.

UPDATE: DOE spokesperson Melody Meyer provided additional details on the parent advocate cutbacks. Although some elementary/middle-school positions will be eliminated, she said, others will be added at the borough advocate level, in response to parent demand for high-school admissions guidance and other high-school information. Meyer could not say where cuts would occur, or whether the new borough advocates would receive formal training in the high-school admissions process.


Anonymous said...

Grrrr. This is infuriating. Under the current policy of Mayoral Control these positions were created to give parents who have been historically ignored by the DOE a way of solving a problem from enrollment to special needs. From my own experience with family advocates this year when I was faced with enrollment problems for two of my children they were helpful in recording my problem, but were mostly bright people who could guess what I should do & what might happen from past experience, but were unempowered & out of the loop. The DOE either purposely or through phenomenal oversight doesn't communicate information to them making them fairly impotent. If they are cutting $ by cutting back people, I do hope they will use their resources to give the remaining family advocates an informed voice! Same goes for parent coordinators & principals for that matter. Give them some accurate information to disseminate!

Anonymous said...

What an outrage that would be. The district family advocates are our "fighters" they are the ones that are helping parents when the DOE does not. I am one parent that has been assisted by my DFA and I can only say BOOOOOOO to the DOE for even of thinking of doing away with them.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have found that the family advocates don't really have access to information and aren't able to fully help parents. As a parent new to the public school system the family advocate in the schools district didn't have access to phone numbers that she needed to give me to enroll my child into school. I kept being told that they told know what's going on because Klein and Bloomberg were constantly making changes they couldn't keep up. Secondly, I was told by another advocate flat out she couldn't help me with an issue, to call the principal. I think the DFA is just another means of discouraging and ignoring parents.